With a host of returning talent, the Columbia Falls High School football team looks primed to make a run at the playoffs again this year under second-year coach Jackson Schweikert.
The Wildcats went 2-2 in conference and 4-4 overall last season with a team that often played nine sophomores and a completely new spread offense, where every skilled player wore a band on his wrist with the playlist.
This year, the boys are now familiar with the system and look ready to roll.
“We have a ton of starters back, and those that didn’t start played a lot of snaps,” Schweikert said last week. “We’re not where we need to be, but we’re miles ahead of last year.”
Under Schweikert’s up-tempo spread offense, the team looks to execute between 60 and 80 plays a game. At the helm again this year is senior quarterback Jared Trinastich.
“He’s put in his time and studied a ton,” Schweikert said. “His mechanics are much improved.”
Trinastich, at 6-4, is a pocket passer, but he can scramble inside the pocket. He’s really improved his footwork, the coach noted.
“He’s improved tremendously with that,” Schweikert said.
Schweikert will also look for good things from senior running back Zach Darling.
“He’ll be a big part of the team this year for sure,” Schweikert said. “We’ve got to have him touch the ball 20 to 25 times a game.”
Darling was also one of the team’s lead tacklers as linebacker on defense.
The Cats have a host of other talented players in returning receivers Josiah Osborne, Alex Presnell, Colton Gove and Trevor Houston. Defensively, they have a solid line anchored by Spencer Ross, linebacker Ike Schweikert and Ty Morgan at safety.
The coaching squad has picked up some new talent as well. Tyler Hobbs, a former University of Montana defensive tackle, joins the program as an assistant coach. Hobbs will teach computer applications at the junior high as well as coach. He played for the Grizzlies from 2006-2010.
Returning to the fray is Bill Coleman as an assistant coach. He was head coach of the football program prior to Schweikert’s arrival.
Schweikert is also assisted by Jamie Heinz, Kelly Houle, Chris Finberg, Brandon Rice and Devyn Rocker. Rocker was a top-notch receiver and kick returner for the Cats in the 2010 season. He graduated in 2011.
The team opens the season with a day game against Lewistown on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 1:30 p.m. It’s the first Saturday game, save for playoff appearances, in years.
The Cats had some success against Lewistown in seven-on-seven ball during summer camps, but Schweikert cautioned that summer camps can often be far removed from what happens in the regular season.